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Mohi | Updated: Apr 17, 2020 | Category: Legal

Protection Of Women Against Domestic Violence

From the cradle to the grave, women are objects of violence from those nearest and dearest to them. And it is a never-ending cycle for there is considerable evidence of 

intergenerational transmission of domestic violence”.

                                                    -M.D.R.Freeman, violence in Home (1979), 239

Women have been since ages victims of violence and exploitation by the male all over the world. It is an old phenomenon existing globally both in developed and developing countries. During earlier times, it was in some other form, but now it is changing its shape, which is disgraceful for this country. Somehow it is also a hindrance in the path of development of this country.

Though the constitution of India assures special provisions for women and children, but these provisions are helpless to raise the status of women in the society by giving them equal freedom, dignity as men. Almost against each problem of domestic violence, there is a law, but it’s no deterrent. Every year thousands of cases took place related to domestic violence, which is committed by their husband, In-laws et. Violence against women can be seen at each stage of women like foeticide, infanticide, child marriage, sexual assault, dowry death, adultery, bigamy, abuse of elderly women, etc.

Domestic violence can be noticed every day in your life in your family or your neighborhood. It’s against women irrespective of caste, class, and economic status. In both rural and urban areas, women are suffering from this kind of violence. It may be in different forms against different women. Since my childhood, I have been watching that women suffer a lot. They are mistreated by their father, brothers, husband, In-law families, and sons. In each and every step of their life, women are being always exploited and became a victim of violence. Generally, in rural areas, people take a girl as a burden over their heads because, according to them, girls cannot earn money and give it to them, and when she will marry, then they have to give dowry to her In-laws. So for them, a girl is a kind of burden. And they don’t like to spend any money on girl education, clothes, health etc…. They think it is useless to spend on any girl because, after few years, she has to go to someone else house(In-laws).when a girl born in these families, then for them it’s the worst news. So, due to these kinds of thinking, girls suffered a lot during her childhood also. Even a mother, who is known for her kindness, mistreats her girl child and forces her to do all domestic works, and she also shows more affection towards the male child, which is also a reason behind Female Infanticide. So here, women herself is the enemy of another woman. They prefer abortion of female fetus. Wife battering, dowry-death, abuse of elderly women etc…exist both in urban and rural areas, and these are very common. A male always dominate females and treats them as animals, and it exists everywhere. To deal with every kind of domestic violence, there are laws in India and, in fact, enacted Domestic violence act also.

Definition Of Domestic Violence

The terms “Domestic violence against women” means any act or conduct which has the potential to injury or hurt any women physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and also spiritually within the four walls of the house; however, such an act or conduct is usually not done by strangers. For purposes of this monograph, domestic violence is operationally defined as violence between intimates living together or who have previously cohabited.

The landmark Domestic violence Act 2005 protects wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and live-in partners who suffer physical violence at the hand of male relatives.

It covers physical violence, sexual violence, verbal violence, emotional violence and economic violence and defines as follows:-

 Physical Implications:-

  • any bodily harm or injury
  • a threat of bodily harm
  • beating, slapping and hitting

Sexual Implications:-

  • forced sexual intercourse
  • forcing a woman to look at pornography or any other obscene pictures or material
  • any act of sexual nature to abuse, humiliate or degrade women or which is otherwise violative of a woman’s dignity or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual life, 
  • child sexual abuse

Verbal and emotional Implications:-

  • insults
  • name-calling
  • accusations on a woman’s character and conduct
  • insult for not having a male child
  • insult for not bringing dowry
  • preventing a woman or a child in a woman’s custody from attending school, college or any other educational institutions
  • preventing a woman from taking up a job, forcing a woman to leave her job
  • preventing a woman from meeting any person in the ordinary course of events
  • forcing a woman to marry a particular person of his/their own choice
  • forcing a woman to marry when she doesn’t want to marry
  • preventing a woman from marrying a person of her personal choice
  • threat to commit suicide
  • any other verbal or emotional abuse

Economic Implications:-

  • not providing a woman money to maintain herself or her children
  • not providing food, clothes, medicines, etc. for a woman or her children
  • stopping a woman from carrying on her employment or disturbing a woman in carrying on her employment
  • not allowing a woman to take up a job or taking away her income from her salary, wages, etc..
  • forcing a woman out of the house she lives in
  • stopping a woman from accusing or using any parts of the house
  • not allowing use of clothes, articles or things of general household use
  • not paying rent if staying in a rented accommodation

What Are The Causes And Consequences Of Domestic Violence

Causes of Domestic Violence:

Every Act emanates as a result of a reason or a cause. For the Act of domestic violence now stated is the various reasons due to which violence against women is increasing:-

Social causes:

The social roots of crimes against women include factors like the inferior status of women due to social conditioning, the patriarchal structure of society, lack of proper training, broken homes too much of interference by parents, imprisonment, drunkenness, immorality, cruelty, addiction to drugs, sickness and modern permissive atmosphere, etc.  

Personal and Psychological factors are:

The batters in their childhood treated with extreme harshness. Batterers get a severe beating from parents for trivial reasons.  Parents of the batterers quarreled frequently, and their arguments were of violent nature, Personal traits of the victim and victimizer, Unemployment and Poverty, Alcoholism, Lack of proper moral education, Marital maladjustment, etc.

Legal causes:

The legal adjustment is a reflection of the societal attitude towards women, and it is non-responsive to her plight. The laws enacted for the Protection of women suffer various shortcomings. The approach of the courts in interpreting these laws is conservative, rigid, and traditional. The enforcement of these laws is so weak that the offenders seem to have lost all fear of authority. They become bolder because they are not caught, so they think that they can indulge in crime with impunity. There is no shortage of crimes even ruthless ones against women who made to the front pages of the newspaper and stirred the conscience of the nation, but the entire public outcry that followed did not help the long arm of the law to dispense justice to the victim. 

Consequences of Domestic Violence:

The consequences of domestic violence can result in physical, mental pain and suffering and can be severe as causing even death. Domestic violence not only makes women feel insecure at Home but also endangers their independence self-development and human right. It questions the very understanding of the marriage. It shatters the faith the woman has in her husband. She starts questioning the expectation she has for herself and also from her husband. Domestic violence is not only a crime against humanity, but it opposed sturdily by most of the world religions and philosophies. It is not only an impediment to development but also perpetrates inequalities and gender-based violence. In brief, it can be said that domestic violence perpetuates the economic social and psychological dependency, which in turn contributes to women’s vulnerability to violence. It has been estimated that women were injured in approximately half of the domestic assaults committed in 1998. The impact of domestic violence is far higher than the individual acts. Severe physical abuses are more likely to result in a more significant psychological impact. Children in abusive families appear to be the most susceptible to the effects of domestic violence. This can result in a series of behavioral problems not only of the women in the family but of the children as well. The children who grow up watching such acts of violence in their family are not only robbed of the rosy childhood they are entitled to but also grow up to become the same and thus continuing this non-ending cycle of violence.  Domestic violence is not a crime or abuse against only the women; rather, it encompasses the entire family and casts a shadow over its happiness and well being. Children are the future of the nation, and it eclipses the future of the country. It’s important to cast this eclipse away from the country.

There are various kind of laws under Indian Penal Code which deals with the violence against women like section 498-A of IPC, Section 306, Section 319 to Section 326 of Indian Penal Code, Section 497 and Section 494 of IPCetc.There are other laws also for the Protection of women against violence like Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.   But special laws have been enacted to deal with domestic violence, i.e., Protection of women from domestic violence act,2005.              

The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005: A Critical Appraisal

The Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005 presents a landmark in the achievement of gender equality for Indian women in fundamental tow ways.

  • First, it rubbishes the myth that the Indian family is a safe place for all its members. This fact is evidenced by the broad range of harms covered under the new law, including abuse of the elderly, child sexual abuse, and violence against divorced or widowed women. Empirical evidence of the widespread existence of these, brutalities in the homes has been available for years and, finally, expression in-laws.
  • Second the law delinks domestic violence from the confinement of dowry harassment and dowry murders. Until now, victims of domestic violence were invariably forced to link the violence to a demand for dowry to access legal remedies under IPC, 1860. Domestic violence act provides civil law relief for domestic violence, which is recognized as occurring for all sorts of reasons, across every class, caste, religion in rural and urban centers.
  • Marital rape has been legally recognized as a form of domestic violence.
  • An essential feature of the Act is the women rights to secure housing. 
  • According to this Act, the power of a court to pass a protection order that prevents the abuser from aiding or committing domestic violence or any other specified act. 
  • The Act provides for the appointment of protection officer and Ngo’s to assist the women concerning medical examination, legal aid, safe shelter, etc
  • The Act provides a special safeguard to a girl who is in a living relationship.
  • The Act also provides punishment for breach of protection order.

 Inhibitions for Implementation:-

Despite the above benefits or advantages of this Act, there are also few drawbacks due to which it’s unable to control Domestic Violence fully. This Act is not proper, and its impact on the Protection of women against violence is not sufficient.

The Act is silent about many aspects, out of which I noticed the following elements:-

  • The Act is silent concerning the taking of cognizance of the offense, i.e.:- there is nowhere mentioned in this Act that how the case is to be taken on the file. 
  • With regard to the charges: – there is no penal provision except U/S 31 of the said Act. When the respondent committed a breach of the under passed by the court, the court is empowered to frame a charge against him under section 31.
  • With regard to trial and procedure:–  in this Act, the police will not investigate the case; only the protection officer or service provider will file the domestic incident report.   
  • About enforcement and order: – though several powers have been given to officers, but implementation procedure has not been mentioned in the Act.
  • Status of the case: – it’s not essential that only man commits violence; the woman can also be an integral part of this crime. So, she should not be excluded based on gender. 
  • Status of Act where male and female living separately: – it’s not applied in this case.
  • Whether the Act is prospective or retrospective: – though, it is settled law that any penal code is only prospective but not retrospective. But, the protection officer who is not adequately trained without making any proper inquiry they are filing the domestic incident report into the court and the court were already over-burdened are also entertained those cases without looking into factual aspects. If the Act is also cleared, then the woman will come to report the husband or any other man for the acts committed not prior to the commencement of the Act.  

Conclusion And Suggestions

In the ultimate analysis, there can be no two opinions about the need for stringent laws, sensitive judiciary, valid law and enforcement machinery, and vigilant woman’s groups to deal with such atrocious crimes against women. But what is needed more is a total change in the thinking process of society. According to the sociological school of jurisprudence, Inhering says that paper law is no law, and existing law is the law. Even the Protection of domestic violence act, 2005, is unable to cure and stop domestic violence against women. Mahatma Gandhi strongly feels that, “if only the women of the world would come together they could display such heroic non-violence as to kick away the atom-bomb like small ball. Women have been so gifted by god. If an ancestral treasure, lying buried in the corner of the house unknown to the members of the family were suddenly discovered, what a celebration it would occasion. Similarly, women’s marvelous power is lying dormant. If the woman of Asia wakes up, they will dazzle the world. My experiment in non-violence would be successful if I could secure women’s help.

Following are a few workable solutions for the issue:

  • Gender discrimination should be eradicated from the society. 
  • The outlook of the society towards women should be changed.
  • Women should also be provided with proper education.
  • Women Should stand against the violence and approach to the court.
  • Women should not hesitate to file divorce in the matter of Domestic Violence.
  • There is a need to strengthen and increase the non-governmental organization, which could take women problems.
  • Legal procedures should be specified while taking action against the entire person who is involved in violence.
  • There is a need to eradicate the drawbacks of Domestic violence Act, 2005.
  • Judicial bias should be removed.
  • The media should also focus on women’s. A free press must represent women and give space to them.
  • There is a need to spread awareness among the people to prevent girl child abuse.
  • The strength of women police should be increased.
  • Laws should be effectively and strictly implemented.
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Advocate Mohi Kumari has got 9+ years of experience in practicing law independently all over India. She has completed her Master in Laws from Rajiv Gandhi National University Of law, as well she has done Post Graduate diploma in Cyber Laws from Asian School of Cyber Laws and Diploma in Corporate Laws from Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University.

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